Meeting on November 16, 2023—George Lewis and Harald Kisiedu, Composing While Black

November 16th, 2023
3:00PM ET In-Person and Online.
Fayerweather Hall (Room 513), Columbia University, 1180 Amsterdam Avenue, New York
Please RSVP here:

We are pleased to welcome George Lewis and Harald Kisiedu who will be talking about their recent book Composing While Black.

Composing While Black: Afrodiasporic New Music Today – A Book Talk. 
For this edition of Comparing Domains of Improvisation, Harald Kisiedu and George E. Lewis will talk about their bilingual German-English edited volume Composing While Black: Afrodiasporische Neue Musik Heute/Afrodiasporic New Music Today. The book offers unique perspectives on the lives, works, aesthetics, and methods of Afrodiasporic contemporary composers working between 1960 and the present, a period that has largely eluded academic inquiry, concert programming, and critical and journalistic accounts. The ten essays in this interdisciplinary collection, engaging with opera, orchestral, chamber, instrumental and electroacoustic music, as well as sound art, conceptual art, and digital intermedia, reveal Afrodiasporic new music as an intercultural, multigenerational space of innovation that maintains a stance of incredulity toward narratives of genre and cultural purity.

Harald Kisiedu is a historical musicologist and saxophonist who received his Ph.D. in historical musicology from Columbia University. He also holds graduate degrees in political science and German studies from the University Hamburg. His research interests include Afrodiasporic classical and experimental composers, jazz as a global phenomenon, improvisation, music and politics, and Wagner. His writings have appeared in the WIRE, Grove Dictionary of American Music, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Van Outernational, and Journal der Künste a. o. He is a lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück’s Institute of Music and has taught at the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” Leipzig and the British and Irish Modern Music Institute Hamburg. He has performed with Branford Marsalis, George Lewis, Hannibal Lokumbe, and Henry Grimes a. o. and has made recordings with the New York-based ensemble Burnt Sugar, the Arkestra Chamber, and composer and improviser Jeff Morris. He is the author of European Echoes: Jazz Experimentalism in Germany, 1950-1975 (Wolke Verlag) and the co-editor (with George E. Lewis) of Composing While Black: Afrodiasporische Neue Musik Heute / Afrodiasporic New Music Today (also Wolke Verlag).

George Lewis is an American composer, musicologist, and trombonist. He is Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music and Area Chair in Composition at Columbia University. In 2020-21 he was a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and he currently serves as Artistic Director of the International Contemporary Ensemble. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin, Lewis’s other honors include the Doris Duke Artist Award (2019), a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015). A 2020-21 Fellow of the WisseenA member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’ work is presented by ensembles worldwide, published by Edition Peters. A Yamaha Artist, Lewis is widely regarded as a pioneer in the creation of computer programs that improvise in concert with human musicians. Lewis’s central areas of scholarship include the history and criticism of experimental music, computer music, interactive media, and improvisation, particularly as these areas become entangled with the dynamics of race, gender, and decolonization. His widely acclaimed book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award. Lewis is the co-editor (with Harald Kisiedu) of the bilingual (German/English) edited volume Composing While Black: Afrodiasporic New Music Today/Afrodiasporische Neue Musik Heute (2023), as well as (with Benjamin Piekut) the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016). Lewis’ many publications on technology include “Too Many Notes: Computers, Complexity and Culture in Voyager” (Leonardo Music Journal, 2000) and “Why Do We Want Our Computers To Improvise?” (Oxford Handbook of Algorithmic Music, 2018). Lewis holds honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, New England Conservatory, New College of Florida, and Birmingham City University, among others (